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" Smash !! "

A broken windscreen can be very frightening, particularly if it occurs at high speed, on a motorway, an all too common experience given the amount of debris laying on the nation's roads ready to be flung up by another vehicle's wheels.

The first, and most important, action is to slow down as quickly as possible - but don't just slam on the brakes-, use hazard indicators and try to get the car across the lanes of traffic and onto the comparative safety of the hard shoulder.

Always exit the car by the passenger door for safety.

There are two types of screen in common use, - laminated and toughened - and you can tell which yours is by looking for the etched description in one corner. It is also worth knowing what tint your glass has, the windscreen company will need this information when you call. An easy check is to hold up a sheet of white paper behind the glass, it will then be readily seen whether it is tinted blue, bronze or some other colour.

Laminated windscreens - as fitted to most modern cars - rarely become completely obscured, usually only the outer skin of glass being broken by an impact, allowing you to carry on to your destination - at much reduced speed - where you can arrange a replacement by your dealer or a specialist company. Alternatively, if you are member of one of the motoring organisations, use their emergency number to call them to your location or, if you can get home, call the specialist direct. Usually a discount is offered to AA or RAC members.

If your screen is of the toughened type, it will craze immediately, severely obscuring vision.

DO NOT punch out the glass immediately. Such a rash act always results in injury to the driver and more damage to the car.

Once you have reached a safe place, call upon a specialist as above.

If you MUST carry on, carefully block all of the heater vents inside and out and, from the comparative safety of the rear seat, use a pole, jack handle or similar, to push out the screen, ensuring there are no loose pieces to fly about before you move the car. If you can rig a temporary screen of polythene - or better still, you carry a temporary windscreen kit in the boot- drive on at a much reduced speed until you can have a replacement fitted.

Temporary windscreens are available from all car spares shops for just a few pounds, a worthwhile investment whichever type of screen your car has.              

Article © Graham Benge 2007

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